Music Reviews



Artist: Alexei Borisov, Olga Nosova, and Dave Phillips (@)
Title: Borinosophil
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The inside liner notes say 'Play loud.' What is this, Controlled Bleeding? But what the heck, it's the day after Christmas as I write this and no one is in the office so I up the volume. This is pretty good noisy stuff. It isn't really noise in the way that Merzbow or Controlled Bleeding is noise, but noisy in the way that Hafler Trio or Zoviet France can be noisy. The artists do a good job of merging ambience and noise ranging from screams, animal grunts, and groans to machine noise, field recordings and guitar. This was quite enjoyable overall and pretty engaging, although the 20 minute track (no titles listed) did get a bit repetitive after a while. File under atmospheric noise. This album weighs in at around 50 minutes.
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Artist: James Ross and Paul Muller (@)
Title: East/West
Format: CD
Label: Ventura Contemporary Music (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of these artists, but Paul Muller describes himself thus: 'I am an active Lutheran interested in new church music. I sing in the Sanctuary Choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, Ventura and play in the brass section of the Cal Lutheran Orchestra. I write contemporary choral and instrumental pieces for church services and hope to contribute post-classical music to the wider church.' Ross, according to the liner notes, is a Brooklyn based guitarist and composer. They describe the album as 'a collaboration of east and west coast sounds of ambient new music.' I have to admit that as it started up, it sounded like something off an old Narada sampler. I thought, 'did they really send new age to Chain DLK?' The cover art only reinforced this sentiment. This is split up with Ross taking the first four tracks and Muller taking the next four. Stylistically, Ross brings the minimal guitar work while Muller dissolves into nice, peaceful, droney ambience. Of the two, Muller's works are stronger on this album. Overall this is not really an album that challenges the listener, but sometimes you want something to fade into the background. This would be good music to put on and settle in with a book or perhaps if you wanted to set some kind of a mood ' if you catch my drift ' this may be a good one to throw on. Not amazing, but a pleasant listen. The price is right if you want to download it, as you can do so for free at the artist link above. This album weighs in at around 59 minutes.
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Artist: Clockwork Orchestra (@)
Title: Friends Without Names
Format: CD
Label: White Label Music
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Clockwork Orchestra, which is the project of Dublin artist Paul Mangan. The website describes it thus: 'His idiosyncratic brand of melody driven music juxtaposes hyperactive synth riffs, melancholic piano balladry and psychedelic string arrangements together to conjure up a strange land of musical toys and colourful characters. This bewildering menagerie of sound serves as a suitably absurd backdrop for Mangan's deadpan vocal stylings and nursery rhyme lyricism.' I can't believe how much this sounds like late 1980s Legendary Pink Dots. It has that whimsical sound to it and the voice is equally distinctive. However, this is just a bit weirder ' which is certainly saying something. Another obvious comparison is the Residents (think Commercial Album). This is a Tim Burton carnival soundtrack with analogue synth. Where LPD mixes up the musical styles, Clockwork Orchestra keeps the weird poppy synth style in full effect. Next time someone claims to have weird taste in music because they listen to Oingo Boingo, hand them this. Not really an everyday listen, but fun. If you're interested in this, you can listen to it on his website as well. This album weighs in at around 42 minutes.
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Artist: The Sleeper Has Awakened (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD EP
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not sure how to describe this disc. It's pretty short, but interesting. I really can't think of a close comparison, and that's a good thing. It's not quite dark ambient, not quite drone, not quite noise, not quite anything. There are some similarities with Nadja in feel. The music is mostly instrumental with some random samples thrown in for good measure. Overall, this is an interesting mix of what sounds like field recordings and electronic bleeps and synth that gets a bit noisy at times, but never quite makes it to noise. At times repetitive and plodding (more in a hypnotic way than boring) while melodic and relaxed at others. This album weighs in at around 15 minutes.

4 stars.
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Artist: Rove: Orkestrova (@)
Title: Electric Ascension
Format: CD
Label: Atavistic
Rated: *****
Evidently this is a reworking of John Coltrane's 'Ascension,' although I am not familiar with this work. As the website explains, 'Coltrane's Ascension belongs right up there in the pantheon of multi-recorded masterworks. Since this is only the second recording by someone other than Coltrane, there's plenty of room for it and more. We decided to record it because we could, and because we had a very heavy line-up of 'free-jazz' players who we thought could handle the large ensemble improvisations.' And yes, this is a heavy lineup, most notably Fred Frith and Nels Cline. As I listened to this, I couldn't help thinking back many years ago when I saw the Nels Cline Trio play in a dive bar in Corvallis, Oregon. The bassist played with a drill and completely wrecked everything. Cline was no less inventive. It was frantic and noisy and it was amazing. This is likewise frantic, noisy, and amazing. How they manage to keep it together is a testament to the skill of these musicians. At first listen it sounds chaotic (which is fine with me), but on repeated listens, it is easier to find some structure in the maelstrom. If you like free jazz and improvisation, you probably already have this, but if you don't, you need to get it. This album weighs in at around 64 minutes.
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